Watertown 1850 mapMaps and atlases are rich sources of information showing how our community has grown and changed over time. At the library, we have a collection of atlases (1871-1903) on microfilm and several large-scale print maps of the area. From our library computers, you can access one of the most comprehensive online map collections, the Digital Sanborn Maps. Sanborn maps were produced from 1867 to 1970 to assist fire insurance companies with risk assessment. Drawn at a scale of 50 feet to an inch, they provide detailed information about all sorts of structures. The Library of Congress is in the process of digitizing its Sanborn Map collection, and has posted helpful information about using the maps on its site.

The town’s website offers a GIS and map center with current assessment and zoning information. Another wonderful local source for cartography is the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, with its online collection of more than 7,000 digitized maps. Combining the town's GIS capabilities with the Leventhal Center's georeferencing, the library has been able to juxtapose the current layout of Watertown with a map from 1874. View that map here.

The links below lead to digitized maps or atlas pages covering Watertown that the library keeps on the statewide Digital Commonwealth site. There, you will find publication information, descriptions, and (in some cases) dimensions and scale.

17th Century

18th Century

19th Century

20th Century

21st Century